ESPACIO PUBLICITARIO
CARACAS, Thursday February 14, 2013 | Update
 
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HUMAN RIGHTS | Human rights advocates demand immediate release

UN: Having Afiuni imprisoned is like opening the door to further abuses

"Honestly, it is becoming increasingly difficult to understand what Judge Afiuni is living through," said the Special Rapporteur on Torture, Mr. Juan Méndez

Afiuni was granted home arrest in February 2011 (File photo)
EL UNIVERSAL
Thursday February 14, 2013  12:17 PM
Five United Nations (UN) human rights experts urged on Thursday the Venezuelan government to release Judge María Lourdes Afiuni Mora, after expressing their deep shock and concern at new and alarming developments regarding sexual abuse, attacks and harassment during her detention at the Female Guidance Institute.

"The situation of Judge Afiuni represents an emblematic case of reprisal for having cooperated with a human rights organ of the United Nations," said Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders Margaret Sekaggya. The senior officer explained that Judge Afiuni was arrested on December 10, 2009 by intelligence police officers after ordering the conditional release pending trial of Eligio Cedeño, whose detention was declared arbitrary in September by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, according to a press release.

"Reprisals against a judge for enforcing an opinion of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and withholding her waiting for a process for more than three years is like opening the door to further abuses and has a widespread intimidating effect," independent expert and current chair of the UN body, El Hadji Malick Sow, stressed.

Judge Afiuni has been under preventative detention for more than three years, even though Article 230 of the new Organic Code of Criminal Procedure (COPP) states that no imprisonment extension should exceed the limit of the minimum sentence of the most serious offense. In the case of Judge Afiuni, this means a three-year sentence. An application for release filed by her attorney in December 2012 was disclaimed last January 14.

"Honestly, it is becoming increasingly difficult to understand what Judge Afiuni is living through," said the Special Rapporteur on Torture, Mr. Juan Méndez. "The substitutive preventive measure of house arrest imposed a few months ago seemed to be a positive step," said Mr. Méndez. "However, this latest decision represents an unacceptable worsening of her situation, particularly in light of her delicate physical and mental state."
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